Welsh-born Karl Johnson is instantly recognisable for his extensive TV, film and stage career which spans six decades.
His most recent TV roles include starring as James de Cadenet in 2021’s three-part ITV crime thriller ‘Too Close’ alongside Emily Watson and Denise Gough. In early 2022 he can be seen in ‘Suspicion’ on Apple TV+ about four Brits accused of kidnapping the son of a US TV mogul. Karl will star as Eric Cresswell alongside Uma Thurman and Robert Glenister. He will also have a role in the upcoming Amazon Prime comedy drama series ‘Mammals’ starring James Corden. Also in 2022 he will play the role of ‘Truth’ in the Paramount+ sci-fi adventure series ‘Halo’.
Major film credits include the 2017 BAFTA nominated and BIFA winning black comedy ‘Death of Stalin’ as well as the award winning police comedy ‘Hot Fuzz’ alongside Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. He starred alongside Alan Rickman in the 1991 film ‘Close My Eyes’ which won that year’s Best Film at the Evening Standard British Film Awards. More recently he starred as Kerby in the 2020 biographical film ‘Dream Horse’ about an odds-defying Welsh racehorse syndicate which also starred Toni Collette and Damian Lewis.
Other recent film credits include Mike Leigh’s 2018 BIFA nominated epic ‘Peterloo’ in which he played Lord Sidmouth, the Home Secretary and the Second World War Nazi drama ‘The Last Vermeer’.
He has had starring roles in many of the UK’s most loved TV shows including Twister Turrill in all four seasons of the long running BBC period drama series ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’. More recently he starred as Reg in all three series of the award winning BBC TV comedy ‘Mum’ opposite Lesley Manville, which won a BAFTA and two RTS Awards as well as receiving many more BAFTA nominations. Other major TV credits include ‘Britannia’ (EPIX), the 2018 TV movie adaptation of ‘King Lear’ for Amazon Prime alongside Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and the 2017 BAFTA nominated Channel 4 crime drama series ‘Born to Kill’. He also appeared as Cato in Series One of the epic 2005 HBO/BBC historical drama series ‘Rome’ which won multiple Emmy Awards and was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a number of BAFTA & RTS Awards.
He has a long list of theatrical credits appearing regularly in productions at the National Theatre, The Old Vic and The Royal Court. These include recent performances such as starring as Father in Dylan Thomas’s masterpiece ‘Under Milk Wood’ at The National in 2021 and starring as Nagg alongside Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Cumming in The Old Vic’s 2020 production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Endgame’.
Other notable performances include playing Gloucester in the 2016 production of ‘King Lear’ at The Old Vic where Glenda Jackson played the title role, and Brazilian playwright Marcos Barbosa's play ‘Almost Nothing’ at the Royal Court Theatre in 2004. He has graced the West End stage frequently, including playing Rocco in the 2013 production of the comedy ‘Barking in Essex’ at the Wyndhams Theatre opposite Lee Evans and Sheila Hancock as well as playing Selsdon Mowbray alongside Celia Imrie and Robert Glenister in the smash hit comedy ‘Noises Off’ at the Old Vic in 2012 and its subsequent transfer to the West End’s Novello Theatre. In 2015 he played the Ghost of Hamlet’s father in the Barbican’s production of ‘Hamlet’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. In 2011, he played Delacey in Danny Boyle’s critically lauded production of Frankenstein at The National Theatre which also starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.
Karl is originally from South Wales and has a native light Welsh accent. He does not speak Welsh. He has a huge repertoire of accents including Midlands, East Anglia, West Country, London, Estuary and RP which he can draw on easily.
Mammals (TV, 2022) – role to be announced, Amazon Prime
Halo (TV, 2022) – 'Truth', Paramount Plus
Suspicion (TV, 2022) – 'Eric Cresswell', Apple TV
Too Close (TV, 2021) – 'James de Cadenet', ITV
Under Milk Wood (National Theatre, 2021) (Theatre, 2021) – 'Mr Jenkins', The National Theatre
Endgame (The Old Vic, 2020) (Theatre, 2020) – 'Nagg', The Old Vic
Dream Horse (Film, 2020) – 'Kerby', Cornerstone Films/Film 4
The Last Vermeer (Film, 2019) – 'Bernard Bakker', TriStar Pictures
Mum (TV, 2016-2019) – 'Reg', BBC
King Lear (TV movie) (Film, 2018) – 'Fool', BBC Two
Peterloo (Film, 2018) – 'Lord Sidmouth', Film Four/BFI
The Death of Stalin (Film, 2017) – 'Dr. Lukomsky', E1
Britannia (TV, 2017) – 'Cormac', Sky Atlantic/Amazon Studios, Series 1
Born to Kill (TV, 2017) – 'Mr Williams', World Productions for Channel 4
King Lear (The Old Vic, 2016) (Theatre, 2016) – 'Gloucester', The Old Vic
Hamlet (Barbican, 2015) (Theatre, 2015) – 'Ghost of Hamlet's Father', The Barbican
Barking in Essex (Theatre, 2013) – 'Rocco', Wyndham's Theatre
Noises Off (The Old Vic/Novello Theatre, 2011-12) (Theatre, 2011-2012) – 'Selsdon', The Old Vic/Novello Theatre
Frankenstein (The National Theatre, 2011) (Theatre, 2011) – 'Delacey', The National Theatre
Lark Rise to Candleford (TV, 2008-2011) – 'Twister Turrill', BBC
Hot Fuzz (Film, 2007) – 'PC Bob Walker', Universal Pictures
Rome (TV, 2005) – 'Cato', HBO/BBC Two, Series One
At the Table/Almost Nothing (Royal Court Theatre, 2004) (Theatre, 2004) – 'Private Eye/Hitman', Royal Court Theatre
Close My Eyes (Film, 1991) – 'Colin', Film Four
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